Associate Provides Food Pantries Over 5,000 lbs. of Vegetables
Vegetables are not simply a hobby for Mark Mason, a lean leader at Ministry Medical Group. "This is my passion. This is what I do," he said. "I've always been into gardening and had a passion for it. We're talking about good, wholesome, high-vitamin, nutrient-dense vegetables. Everything I grow is the cream of the crop. I don't keep any of this food for myself."
The seeds in Mason's journey were planted four years ago, when he drove by an apple orchard on Hwy. 10 near Auburndale, located between Stevens Point and Marshfield, an area which had recently experienced a snowfall. "Their entire apple crop was going to be lost. I pitched them on the idea of collecting the apples and donating them to the Stevens Point food pantries. That was a 900-pound donation of apples," he said.
His experience at the apple orchard got him thinking about the difference one person can make.
"As part of its mission, Ministry serves the poor. I thought to myself, ‘Maybe there's more I can do to make a bigger impact.' I talked with Sr. Lois; she championed my cause, and last year, the ‘Giving Garden' was created."
The "Giving Garden," a 75' x 150' plot of land, is located on Mason's farm in Hull, near the Wisconsin River. This year, he picked 910 pounds of pickles. "That's a lot of standing on your head!" he laughed. "I also have 128 tomato plants. It's a wall – about 6' tall. I experiment with 6-8 varieties of everything I grow."
Despite his success with vegetable production, Mason soon discovered that the process of donating to local food pantries came with a few challenges. "It's difficult to donate, since the pantries are not open all the time. They each have different hours of operation, they're small, and typically receive smaller volumes of food. I wanted to make a bigger impact," said Mason.
He ended up striking a deal to provide fresh vegetables to the Stevens Point Salvation Army. Mason's first-year goal was to donate 2,000 pounds; he hit the 3,200 pound-mark. He also delivers to Operation Bootstrap and other or pantries so the food doesn't go to waste.
"My goal was 4,000 pounds of vegetables this year, I'm now at 5,440 pounds of donated vegetables, and I still have to deliver my squash!"
Mason appreciates the opportunity to serve others and Ministry's support of his talents.
"Ministry let me leverage my passion to serve the poor in the community. I encourage our associates to find their passions, because you can truly reach out and touch a large number of lives," he added.
Published October 2014